Engineers Turn Plastic Bottles Into an Environmentally-Friendly Roofing Material

roofFor many living in developing countries, the idea of a roof that can keep out rainwater and moisture might seem like a luxury. The thatched grass roofs that are so common in third-world countries are notorious for leaking and collapsing when water-logged. The grass used to make thatched roofs is becoming less abundant, and bugs tend to make homes out of these roofs.Tin roofs aren’t much better — while they keep water out, they also trap heat in and are notoriously noisy when it rains.

This is why one Duquesne University professor has come up with the “plastic thatch,” made from plastic bottle waste, according to a June 10 article in The Atlantic.

David Saiia, professor of strategic management and sustainability, specializes in creating business solutions that will both help people out of poverty while conserving ecosystems and habitats, The Atlantic reports.

For the plastic thatch roof, Saiia cuts the tops and bottoms off of plastic bottles, then flattens the remaining part and cuts it into strips. The strips are then arranged into a cross-strip using an ultrasonic sealing machine — the machine also responsible for impenetrable clam-shell packaging.

In addition to being water-resistant and conducive to ventilation, plastic thatch also lets natural light into a home and muffles sound, The Atlantic reports. Plastic thatch can come in a wide range of colors, depending on the colors of the plastic bottles used to make it. A plastic thatch roof can last more than 10 years, its makers estimate.There is certainly no shortage of plastic bottle waste available on Earth with which to make plastic thatch.

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